New York Times: Release Alan Gross

An editorial from the New York Times:

Release Alan Gross

When he was arrested in Havana in late 2009, Alan Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, was helping Cuba’s Jewish community get better access to the Internet. A Cuban court last year found him guilty of participating in a “subversive project of the U.S. government that aimed to destroy the revolution through the use of communications systems out of the control of authorities,” and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. He has languished in a military hospital ever since. His lawyer says he has lost more than 100 pounds and suffers from severe arthritis. As an act of mercy, the Cuban government should release Mr. Gross.

We hope that when Pope Benedict XVI visits the island next week, he will urge its president, Raúl Castro, to do so. The pope must press the Cuban leader to end the harassment of dissidents and tell him that the world has not forgotten the Cuban people’s yearning for freedom.

Only in a repressive country like Cuba would Mr. Gross’s efforts be characterized as a threat to the state. Full access to information and communications is a human right. Mr. Gross did misrepresent himself when he entered the country on a tourist visa and did bring in communications equipment without a license. But a 15-year sentence for those violations is absurd and inhumane.

Cuba has tried to use Mr. Gross as a chip to get the United States to release the “Cuban Five” — five men convicted in 2001 of spying on anti-Castro exiles. There is no comparison, but some compromise should be possible. One of the five, René González, is on parole, and a federal judge in Miami has now agreed he can return to Cuba for two weeks to visit a brother who has cancer. Cuban officials should immediately allow Mr. Gross to return to the United States to visit his mother, who has cancer. Once both men are home, an agreement to keep them home should be made.



5 thoughts on “New York Times: Release Alan Gross

  1. “five men convicted in 2001 of spying on anti-Castro exiles.” But of course they didn’t intend to get any other information or do anything potentially detrimental to the US. That’s what Castro, Inc. claims, falsely, and of course the NYT parrots that claim and omits the rest of the story. Oh, yeah, I respect the NYT. Just like I respect Granma.

  2. You would think that the NYT’s could spare a mere line about the Ladies in White, but of course, that would be so out of character.

    In any case, now that the heat is rising and Jaime Ortega’s complicity with the increasingly repressive [unreformed] raul regime is becoming more obvious by
    the day and the Pope’s inertia is under growing scrutiny and people from all quarters are starting to question this papal visit, Alan Gross could be the tyranny’s saving grace. If the regime releases Gross it could be seen as another “victory” for Jaime Ortega and the Pope could come away saying that he–along with Ortega–discussed human rights and interceded on behalf of a jailed dissident, namely Gross. For raul’s part, Gross’s release might draw attention away from the Ladies in White.

    Gross could just become the saving grace for these three men: Pope, Cardinal and raul.

  3. Correction: I just reread the NYT’s editorial and they do ask [surprise, surprise] the Pope to ask raul to end harassment of dissidents. Well, as they say, even a broken clock gets the time right every now and then.

  4. I have nothing against Gross or his family, and wish them all the best. However, freeing Gross and ignoring the 11 million Cubans effectively prisoners of the regime will be beyond callous, insulting and despicable. Yes, the regime can get PR mileage out of that, but it will be strictly an opportunistic ploy that should fool absolutely no one with even half a brain.

  5. The NYT also “forgot” to mention that the 5 spies were implicated in the murder of unarmed US citizens on a humanitarian mission over international waters. True, the victims belonged to “those people,” so I guess that means they don’t count and don’t matter, at least not to the NYT. But of course there’s no bias or bad faith here. Not at all.

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